The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 19, 2013

‘Free yourself’

DANVILLE — Almost 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, people of all races are still enslaved, a speaker said Tuesday. Modern-day slavery isn’t physical anymore; it’s mental, local journalist Tricia Teague told an audience Tuesday.

Teague, founder of the Progressive Black newspaper, was guest speaker during the Black History Month program at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System.

“We have enslaved ourselves to the idea that the problems in this world are someone else’s problems,” Teague said. “Emancipate ourselves from the idea that our neighbor’s problems are not my problems.”

Once people free themselves from a selfish mentality, they’ll be able to reach out and help others.

“You should be able to help just one person,” she said. “Together, we may actually change the world.”

Teague told the audience that the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in January 1863, but many slaves didn’t get word about their freedom until June 1865 — 900 days later. “My ancestors were free for 900 days and didn’t know it,” she said.

The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, which outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and some might think the work has been done.

“We’re free, right?” she said. “It’s time to evaluate whether we’re truly free, whether justice is a reality for all of God’s children.

“Racism, discrimination are not dead — they’re just illegal,” Teague said, which brought applause from the audience.

She noted that the number of people in poverty in the United States is 46.2 million; in this area, the poverty rate is 27 percent. Locally, homes are vacant and falling apart, and gun violence is a problem.

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